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What does zero tolerance mean for underage drivers?

 Posted on June 07,2023 in Criminal Defense

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Like many other states, Virginia uses zero-tolerance laws when it comes to underage drivers. These are any drivers who are 21 years old or younger, meaning there is generally a gap of about five years in which a driver could fit into this age group.

When looking at zero-tolerance laws, they referred to this driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Most drivers are held to a standard of 0.08%. But zero tolerance means that a positive test could lead to a drunk driving arrest, even if that driver is well below the 0.08% limit.

Why is this done?

The general reason for this is that those who are under 21 are not allowed to drink in the first place. They shouldn't even be able to buy alcohol, and they certainly cannot possess it illegally. If it is found in their system, since they've already broken this law, then it exposes them to the potential for drunk driving allegations.

Could this be problematic?

There are some potential problems with zero-tolerance laws. For one thing, the driver may not actually feel that impairment at all.

For example, imagine that a teenager is at a party with their friends. They don't plan to drink any alcohol, but they are given a spiked drink. They drink half of it without even realizing that it has alcohol in it, and they don't feel intoxicated at all since they had such a small amount. But they could still theoretically fail a breath test and be arrested on the drive home.

Young people who find themselves in this position, along with their parents, need to be well aware of their legal defense options. That's the best way to protect their future.

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